UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
FOOD & DRUG ADMINISTRATION
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OFFICE OF SPECIAL HEALTH ISSUES
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WEBINAR ON ORPHAN PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
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JANUARY 23, 2009
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JEFF FRITSCH, Presenter
ANDREA FURIA, Host
P R O C E E D I N G S
--reasons why the Orphan Drug Act was needed.
Prior to 1983, there were only approximately ten approved products for the treatment of rare diseases, and as you can see from my slide here, right now, there are currently, approximately 7,000 rare diseases known to man, and with only ten approved products at that time, it looks like we were just touching the "tip of the iceberg."
So we needed to provide some sort of incentive to move drug development forward.
There's a couple primary reasons why the Orphan Drug Act came about, and the first reason that comes to mind is industry's reluctance to invest in small markets, and basically, industry is driven by profitability, and they realize that when they do drug development for small populations, there's not a great return on their investment dollar. But there was a significant need for rare diseases. As I mentioned before, there's in excess of 25 million U.S. citizens out there with rare diseases, and most of those diseases had no known therapies.
This whole idea behind the Orphan Drug Act primarily came about through patient advocacy. There was a young woman from the State of Connecticut, a housewife, by the name of Abbey Meyers, and Abbey has two children, both of whom suffer from Tourette's syndrome. Tourette's syndrome is a condition that affects approximately 150,000 U.S. citizens.
And at the time, there were no known treatments for Tourette's syndrome. However, there was one pharmaceutical company, McNeil Pharmaceutical, that was developing a drug product, temozolomide, for the treatment of Tourette's syndrome. And it just so happened that one of Abbey Meyers' children was enrolled in this clinical atrial, and everything seemed to be going along quite well, and the drug looked promising for the treatment of Tourette's syndrome.
In the meantime, McNeil was developing the same product for the treatment of schizophrenia, which is a disease state that affects a much greater number than that of rare diseases, and one of the outcomes from the schizophrenia trial was that they found that the product, temozolomide, was ineffective for the treatment of schizophrenia. So McNeil decided to "can" the whole temozolomide program.
Abbey Meyers found this extremely upsetting because her son had been on this product, and it seemed to be promising, and it was providing a benefit for her son. And so she decided that something needed to be done to stimulate more drug development for the treatment of rare diseases.
So she decided to start a nonprofit organization by the name of the National Organization for Rare Disorders, or we just call it by its acronym, NORD, and NORD was founded to provide patient services and to lobby Congress with her concerns regarding rare disease and lack of therapies.
So she took off her apron, and she traveled down to Washington, D.C., to Capitol Hill, and she started knocking on a lot of doors of congressional members and Senate members, and a lot of that knocking "fell on deaf ears," but it did attract some attention. One particular gentleman by the name of Congressman Henry Waxman took a particular interest in just the plight of patients with rare diseases.
Abbey Meyers testified before Congress on numerous occasions. On one such occasion, she had with her several patients that were testifying before Congress, and one of the patients is a gentleman from California by the name of Adam Seligman, and Adam Seligman, too, was a patient that suffered from a rare disease, and at that time there were no therapeutic, approved products in the United States for his particular condition.
And so he had to seek treatment elsewhere, and he was able to find an approved product in Canada, and so he went through a process to try and obtain product from Canada, and during that whole procedure, U.S. Customs confiscated his drug product order and he was unable to get his medication.
And during the testimonial before Congress, there happened to be a news reporter in the audience from the LA Times, and he decided to file a brief story in the LA Times, several days later, discussing the plight that Adam Seligman was going through.
And this particular story, even though it was very small, caught the eye of a gentleman by the name of Maurice Klugman. And Klugman may be a familiar name. He is the brother of actor Jack Klugman. And at that time, during the time period from 1976 to 1983, Maurice Klugman was producing a show by the name of Quincy ME, and the starring role was playing by his brother, Jack.
And Maurice Klugman, after reading this story, contacted Abbey Meyers, and informed her that he, too, is a patient with a rare disease, and he could understand the situation that Mr. Seligman was going through.
So they decided to actually produce a program that discussed the--looked at the plight of patients with rare diseases. So they did a whole one-hour segment on rare diseases, and this caught the attention of many U.S. citizens, and so the letters started pouring in back to Abbey Meyers. And so as you can see, Abbey Meyers realized that there was power in numbers, and now that she's created this nonprofit organization that represented 25 million U.S. citizens--that was a huge number--and so with those numbers, and all this information coming in, she was able to get the ear of Congressman Henry Waxman.
Okay. Congressman Henry Waxman, we believe, is the gentleman that coined the word "orphan drug," and he felt like orphan drugs were like children who have no parents, and that they required special efforts. And those special efforts came about through the approval, or the enactment of the Orphan Drug Act.
The Orphan Drug Act was signed into law, January 4th, 1983, and that was signed by President Ronald Reagan, and the Orphan Drug Act provided an additional mission for FDA to promote and develop drug therapies for rare diseases.
So with the Orphan Drug Act becoming law in 1983, that also created this office. The Orphan Drug Act, initially, the focus of the act was on a definition of and treatment for rare diseases and conditions, and, most importantly, the Orphan Drug Act offered valuable incentive to encourage sponsors, or industry, to develop rare disease treatments.
The Orphan Drug Act again came about in 1983, and has remained relatively unchanged throughout the years. There have been a few minor amendments. The first amendment came about in 1984, and, initially, Congress did not know how to define a rare disease, so they thought about it for a year or so, and they came up with this definition.
They said that a rare disease is any disease or condition which affects fewer than 200,000 U.S. patients in the United States, or--there's a second part to the definition--it may be a disease or condition that affects greater than 200,000 persons in the United States but for which there is no reasonable expectation that costs of developing and making available in the U.S. a drug for such disease or condition will be recovered from sales in the U.S. of such drug.
It's interesting to note, that with the second definition, we've designated many, many different products. I'll give you exact numbers in a few more slides. But we've only had three different products come in that met the requirements for the second definition. So that hurdle of non-profitability is pretty high.
In 1985, a second amendment came along, and Congress realized that many drug products have patent protection, and they realized that patent protection had its limits. So not only did they include non-patentable drug products. They also included patentable products.
And they also realized that biologics were now coming into the limelight, and they realized that there were some very important therapies that were in the pipeline. So they included drugs and biologics as part of the Orphan Drug Act.
MS. FURIA: Excuse me. I just want to interrupt you one second, Jeff. Someone has their speaker that's not muted, and we can hear conversations. Can you please ensure you hit star six to mute your phone. Thank you. Sorry.
MR. FRITSCH: In 1988, another minor amendment to the original Orphan Drug Act came about, and one of the points of the amendment is that it requires the application for designation to be made prior to the submission of a new drug application, which we also call an NDA, and that's for drug products, or a product license application, which is now called a biologics license application, that is BLA, and those are targeted for biologics process.
What happened prior to 1988, there was a handful of companies that were developing drug products for rare diseases but they never came to this office to seek orphan designation, and they went through the entire development process without orphan status, and then they did not need use of the number of financial incentives that we had to offer, and post-approval of their product, they decided, hey, we have a orphan drug product and we would like to get the exclusivity associated with approval of orphan drug products.
And Congress felt like, well, if they did not need the other incentives to develop the product to that point, then they probably would not also need the exclusivity provision. So Congress decided that if you wanted to use these incentives, that you had to submit your application prior to the submission of your marketing application.
A second point to the 1988 amendment is that there was an extension of the tax credit provision for clinical testing expenses. The tax credit provision has always been part of the Orphan Drug Act, but in earlier days, it had a sunset clause, and that particular provision had to be renewed, periodically, by Congress.
In 1992, about ten years have passed now since the original Orphan Drug Act, and the office has kind of gotten in the swing of things, and the office had developed orphan drug regulations that would help better define operations here, and more about the program.
These final regulations were implemented--final regulations implementing the Orphan Drug Act were published in the Federal Register, dated December 29th, 1992. Those regulations can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations. The regulations are found in Section 21 and the orphan regulations are in Part 316. It's about a dozen pages. And the regulations became effective January 28th, 1993.
The Orphan Drug Act defined a number of responsibilities for this office, and these responsibilities included reviewing requests for orphan drug product designation. It also provided a provision that we would serve as a liaison between sponsoring companies and the FDA Review Divisions.
It's kind of interesting to note, that many of the companies that seek orphan status are small-to-medium size companies. In the early days, Big Pharma, the larger pharmaceutical companies, did not have a lot of interest in developing drug product for rare diseases, so we did not see very many applications from them. But that has changed since the early days.
An additional responsibility is that we oversee the orphan products program. We encourage sponsors to conduct clinical trials, and we also award grant funding to defray costs of qualified clinical testing incurred in connection with the developing of drugs for rare diseases and conditions.
This is a basic timeline that I'm showing here, now, of the drug development timeline, and if you look to the far right, here, on this axis, that would be time zero, and the time at the far left will be a time when the drug product has been approved, and is now on the market for use in U.S. patients.
And this timeline from zero to a marketable application may be as many as 20 years. So it gives you an idea of how long it takes to develop a single product for any type of disease. And where the orphan drug products designation process usually comes into play is just about where this first gray bar is, and that is where the company that is developing a product, they are now finishing up preclinical studies or animal testing, and now they're ready to introduce the drug product into humans in a Phase I trial.
And during Phase I, Phase II, is generally when we see companies come to us seeking orphan drugs designation. Clinical trials today.
The gold standard for drug approval in the United States is two well-controlled clinical trials. And there are some exceptions to this rule. One exception is for serious conditions where no other therapy is available, and other substantial evidence is available, and that came about through FDAMA in 1997.
The one point that I wanted to bring about with this slide is that this definition of two clinical, well-controlled clinical trials, is a definition that covers all drugs, orphan or not. But one thing that the orphan drug products have as an advantage, is that typically they're dealing with small populations, and sometimes, because of the small number of patients available for clinical trials, it would be very difficult to do two clinical trials in these type of populations.
So there is a little bit of "wiggle room," and this wiggle room is a process of negotiation, and it's on a case by case basis, and these are negotiations that would occur between a specific sponsor and the review division that's working with their particular IND.
Obviously, the most important thing that the Orphan Drug Act has to offer are a number of financial incentives, and these financial incentives, we here, internally, like to call it our "basket of goodies."
Once a drug product has been granted orphan drug status, a sponsor may use any or all of these financial incentives, and these incentives include marketing exclusivity, research grant funding, tax credits for clinical research, protocol assistance, and waiver of the PDUFA application fee, and PDUFA is one of the many acronyms that we use here at the Agency, and PDUFA is the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, that came about in 1992, and we'll discuss that in a little bit more detail in a few more slides.
Probably the most important financial incentive that we have to offer is the marketing exclusivity provision, and once a product has been granted orphan status and they go through the clinical trials, they submit all their data for the Agency to review, and they deem that the product's both safe and effective.
At the time that that marketing application is signed off by the Review Division, and it becomes a product available for U.S. citizens, if it's an orphan product, they are granted seven years marketing exclusivity, and that exclusive period is specific to the act ... that was approved, and the indication approved for.
And that basically prevents FDA from approving the same product for that same indication, for that seven year period. And that period basically grants a type of monopoly for the company, and it allows them a seven year period to recoup some of their R&D dollars that they have invested in the product.
Patents versus exclusivity. Patents last much longer than exclusivity. Patent life is for 20 years. But if you think back to the timeline that I showed several slides earlier, and think of that timeline from time zero to approved product, and that timeline may represent 20 years, if a company applies for a patent very early on then, at the time of approval, much of their patent life has expired. Also patents are easily challenged in the courts and overturned. And so Congress felt that this exclusivity provision that we have to offer is much stronger than a patent, and again that exclusivity provision starts at the time of marketing approval.
The Agency feels very strongly about the exclusivity provision, and the exclusivity can be challenged, it has been challenged in the past, but the FDA will take the challenger to court and defend the exclusivity provision for the original innovator.
As I mentioned before, another one of our incentives is a research grant funding, and these are funds for clinical studies supporting development of orphan products. For a grants program, these products can include drugs, biologics, medical devices, and medical (inaudible) ...
We mentioned tax credit provision earlier. The tax credit provision provides for up to 50 percent tax credits for clinical research and testing expenses, and we define clinical research as any research that's conducted in humans. So the tax credits are not available for preclinical studies or any animal testing.
The tax credit provision can be applied to federal taxes incurred in the prior years, and we call that the carryback provision, or applies for up to 20 years, carried forward against future taxes, and this period is all based on the time that orphan status is granted for that particular product.
As I mentioned earlier, the tax credit provision has always been a provision of the Orphan Drug Act but it was a renewable provision. But Congress realized the value of the tax credits, and in May of 1997, they made it a permanent provision of the Orphan Drug Act. Protocol assistance is another program that the Orphan Drug Act provided for. The protocol assistance is a feature that helps potential sponsors find research that conforms to FDA requirements.
Sponsors may receive both formal and informal guidance regarding preclinical or clinical requirements for product approval.
This office is no longer directly involved in protocol assistance. Protocol assistance was originally written into the Orphan Drug Act because, at the time of the Orphan Drug Act, 1983, which was 26 years ago, the relationship between industry and the Agency was much more adversarial than it is today. But subsequent to the Orphan Drug Act, several other acts have come into place, and one of those acts was FDAMA, the Food and Drug Modernization Act of 1997.
And one of the outcomes of FDAMA was that the Agency was going to become a more user-friendly Agency, and there was going to be a change in the relationship between industry and the Agency.
And one of the outcomes of that was they created opportunities for industry to meet with the Agency to discuss drug development. And there are different types of meetings that the Agency encourages, and these include pre-IND meetings, end-of-Phase I meetings, end-of-Phase II meetings, pre-NDA meetings, and then there's also a number of meetings that are conducted during the course of the review of the marketing application.
And this has all taken the place of protocol assistance. Now, what we do here is we act more as facilitators. As I mentioned before, many of the companies that we deal with are small- and medium-size companies. Many of these companies are new and they're unfamiliar with some of the regulatory pathways. So they can come to us on an informal basis and we can provide them guidance, and lead them to contact within the Agency to help them with their drug development.
Another financial incentive that the act provides is a waiver of the PDUFA fee. PDUFA, again, is the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, which came about in 1992, and basically PDUFA came about because there was a bit of an outcry from the public, and from industry, indicating that the Agency was taking too long to approve products.
Once a marketing application was submitted prior to 1992, it may take a number of years for the Agency to make a determination of efficacy and safety. And the public wanted to see shorter timelines.
So there was a lot of negotiations between public members, industry, and the Agency, with Congress, and they came up with this user fee program, and basically user fees were provided to the Agency so that we would have more monies to buy more resources, hire more people, buy more computers, etcetera.
And so in 1992, whenever a marketing application was submitted to the Agency for review, a user fee was associated with that submission, and I've been with the Agency for about ten years now, and when I first started with the Agency, the user fee was approximately $230,000.
The fee is reassessed every year, and it's gone up every year since I've been here. Currently, in fiscal year 2009, the user fee is $1.2 million. So you can see from that figure, that could be a significant barrier to innovation.
But if your drug product that you're developing has been granted orphan status, that fee is automatically waived. So it's a big bonus for companies developing drug products for rare diseases.
There are some additional fees that may be waived, but they are not directly linked to orphan drug status, and these fees are establishment fees and product fees. These are all post-marketing fees. These fees are set annually.
Establishment fee is assessed for every company, for every manufacturing site that they may have, and currently, in this fiscal year, the establishment fee is $425,000. And a product fee is also assessed for every approved product that the company currently has on their roster.
So, for example, if they had ten approved products, they're going to get ten bills from the Agency for $71,520. A company may approach the Agency, more specifically the Office of Regulatory Policy, and they can present information showing that these fees are barriers to innovation.
If the Agency agrees with them, these fees may be waived, but again, these are not directly linked to orphan drug status.
Basically, we have three types of programs that we oversee here at the Office of Orphan Product Development. These programs include orphan designation. We have a grants program, and we also have a humanitarian use device program, or we call them HUDs.
In the next few slides that I have remaining, I'm going to provide some information about each of these three programs. The Orphan Designation Program, that's the program where I work primarily in, and this program specifically qualifies drug products or biologic products for special financial incentives, and as we mentioned before, those incentives include the marketing exclusivity, the waiver of the PDUFA fee, tax credits, and so on.
... [audio] that our regulations can be found in 21 CFR 316. There's one specific regulation that outlines the criteria that a submission must have when they are requesting orphan drug designation, and these requirements can be found in 21, 316.20. There's actually nine points of information that we're looking for in each application, but for reviewing purposes, we're primarily concerned with two.
And one is that the sponsor must provide an adequate rationale that must be consistent with accepted medical knowledge, and this rationale--we're not looking for all-out efficacy or safety. We're just looking for enough science there to give us an idea that there's some promise in the development of this drug product for a rare disease.
Secondly, the sponsor must also provide prevalence figures, and they have to show that the disease or condition that they're interested in affects fewer than 200,000 U.S. citizens.
One common question that we get from sponsors is that--they'll indicate that we've already designated numerous products for a specific disease, say, for example, let's say cystic fibrosis.
I know we have in excess of 20 designated products for cystic fibrosis, and that disease population has remained relatively stable over the years. It's approximately 30,000 U.S. patients.
And companies will come in--well, we pretty much established what the prevalence is for cystic fibrosis, do we have to come in, provide you with the prevalence numbers? And the answer is always yes, because each and every application must rely on its own merits. So they must provide the prevalence data for us to review.
Just to give you an idea of some basic statistics for our designation program.
Since 1983, when our program started, we've had 2753 designation requests submitted to this office for review, and of those 2700-plus products, we have designated 1955 products as orphan products. And of those 1955 designated products, 336 have gone on to marketing approval.
And it may seem like a small number, but it's a number that we're very proud of. As I mentioned earlier, in the years prior to the Orphan Drug Act, there were only ten approved products for rare diseases.
So we feel like subsequent to the Orphan Drug Act, the incentive that we have to offer has had a positive impact, and we have a long ways to go, but I think we're starting to make a small dent into the issue.
This next slide just gives a brief overview of several products that were approved within the last two years. For a more extensive list, I welcome you to visit our Web site. I have the Web address on the next-to-the-last slide, and we have a complete list of all the products that have gone on to marketing approval.
Another very important program that we have here is our grants program, and the goal of our grants program is to encourage clinical development products for use in treatment of rare diseases or conditions.
The way we advertise our program is primarily through the Federal Register, and we do this through what we call an RFA notice. It's a Request For Applications. We put out a notice annually, and the notice specifies all the details regarding how to submit, where to submit, all the information you need in the submission. And that is also available on our Web site.
And our grants program is specific only to clinical studies. So we do not fund any preclinical trials. If a company's seeking funding for those type of trials, there's a number of programs available at NIH, and many other courses of funding elsewhere.
To date, our office has provided in excess of $150 million in grant funding, and we estimate that that $150 million has gone towards studies involving 180 rare diseases.
So again, we have a long ways to go, because we know there's in excess of seven thousand rare diseases out there. But I think we are making some progress.
Our current budget for our grants program is $14.2 million. A grant funding may cover between 200,000 to $400,000 in total costs, and these costs include direct and indirect expenses, and these fundings are renewed annual, and for up to a four year period.
Of that $14.2 million that we have budgeted, approximately $10 million will go towards funding noncompeting continuation grants. These are grants that we've started funding in the previous years, and those studies are ongoing.
So that means that there's a remaining $4.2 million that will fund approximately ten to twelve new grants annually, and all this is subject to the availability of funding.
Applications for funding for up to $200,000 may go towards Phase I, Phase II, or Phase III studies. Applications seeking $400,000 must be for studies continuing Phase II or Phase III studies only.
A new provision, that we just came up with about a year ago, is that we've now created a fourth year of funding for some available studies in Phase II or Phase III. Previous to that, we would only grant funding for up to a three year period.
The grants go through a number of review cycles, and as I mentioned before, we announced this program through the Request For Applications, RFA notification. It just so happens that we're starting our next funding season in the next couple weeks. I believe February 4th if our next grant submission date.
So we have folks out there that are interested in the program, and we'll be seeing their protocols coming in in the next couple of weeks. Typically, on an annual basis, we'll receive anywhere from 50 to 80 requests for funding. These requests must be for clinical trials, or these are trials done (inaudible)..., and these trials are to provide safety and/or efficacy data for one product only, and for one indication.
One of the requirements of our program is that the study must be conducted under an IND, in the case of a drug or a biologic. IND is an investigational new drug. Or in the case of a device product, it has to be conducted under an IDE, or investigational device exemption, which is the device equivalent to an IND.
The products that come in for grant funding, they do not have to have orphan status, but they do have to meet the requirements. So they must provide information showing that the prevalence of the disease, or condition that they're interested in studying, falls below the 200,000 statutory limit.
During the course of our first review, we also make sure that the funding is within budget limits, and, most importantly, we like to make sure that there is drug product available. We've had several cases in the past where the protocol came in, it was provided excellent scoring, and we decided to fund the product, the program, and then at the time when they received their initial funds, they didn't have product available, and which is not a benefit to anybody, most importantly, the patient.
So early on, we like to make sure that they do have drug product available. So once funding starts, they're able to initiate their studies right away.
The second component to the review process is our ad hoc panel of experts.
This office is not directly responsible for the review of the scientific merit of each application, because that would be a conflict of interest. So what we do is we create ad hoc panels, and these are panels of experts, and these are experts that we seek throughout the entire United States, and even abroad, and in any given year we'll have probably eight to twelve different panels, and on each panel there'll be a minimum of four panelists.
And again, these panelists are experts from their fields of study. And we conduct the panels, right here, in our office, and we contact the panelists and see if they are willing to sit on our panel, and if they're okay with that, then we actually pay for their travel expenses and accommodations, and they sit through the process and give us advice on whether or not these particular studies are fundable.
After we go through the ad hoc panels of experts, there's a third review, and this is the National Advisory Council, and the purpose of the National Advisory Council is to ensure concurrence with the first review.
And currently, the National Advisory Council that we are using is with NCI, the National Cancer Institute at NIH, and they conduct these National Advisory Councils on a regular basis, and once we've completed all of our review work here, and review work of the ad hoc panel experts, we present the outcome of our review to the National Advisory Council, and they review it to make sure that everything's adequate, and that we follow the regulations.
And if they concur, then we can move forward.
The last step is the final awards determination, and final awards are determined by rank, order, priority score. The priority scoring system is very much like the NIH system. Each application is ranked based on its scientific merit, and it's scored, and the scores range from 100 to 500, 100 being the best score, 500 the worst.
And typically for our program, our funding limits usually come about with scores of about 180 or below.
Once we've made a determination of the grants that we're going to fund, then the next step is to assign a project officer to each of the applications, and the role of the project officer is to act as a liaison between the grantee and the FDA Review Division.
This is a very important activity, because there is a number of regulatory requirements specified by the IND regulations, that the investigator must follow, and so we just like to follow up with the investigator, several times a year, just to make sure that they are implementing everything that they're required to do under the regulations.
Another assignment for the project officer is to ensure enrollment goals, and make sure that the investigator's able to achieve his goals, and we are able to do this through quarterly progress updates, and on a quarterly basis, we contact our investigators out in the field, and we can do this either by e-mail, or through correspondence, or by phone.
And it's just an opportunity to us to talk to the investigators, just to get an idea of how the studies are progressing.
And if there are any problems with enrollment, we can discuss possible fixes for those enrollment activities.
Another activity that we're involved in is a site visit. Most of our grant programs are usually three years in length, and during the course of that three year period, the project officer is required to visit the site once, and it's just basically an opportunity for us to meet the principal investigator and kind of put a face to the name.
And we found this to be a very valuable tool, because even though we do these quarterly updates, and we discuss enrollment goals, and the achievement of these goals, sometimes, there are issues that just don't come out during that conversation, and when we're able to go out there for this one visit, and meet up with the principal investigator, sometimes these issues come out during the face-to-face discussion and the outcomes usually are positive in that we can provide some additional help to overcome some of their enrollment problems.
Another activity that we're involved in is sponsor acquisition. Many of the principal investigators that we deal with are researchers, they're usually in a university setting, and they are very passionate about their work and they're very passionate about finding cures for a particular disease.
But they're not directly involved in the drug development program. They're just involved in a small segment of it.
And so one of the things that we like to do is encourage these investigators to come to us and apply for orphan drug status, so that these incentives that I mentioned before are available to them.
But more importantly, the orphan drug status is transferable. So once they've finished their study, maybe they're doing a small Phase I study or a Phase II study, but they're not going to take it beyond that point, they may have some discussions with a drug company that might be interested in taking the product beyond Phase II and all the way to marketing approval.
And by having the orphan drug status, that is transferable, and those incentives transfer along with the orphan drug status. So that's a big benefit for the sponsoring company.
Our third program that we're involved in is our Humanitarian Use Device Program, what we call HUD. It's our smallest program that we deal with, and I'm not directly involved in that, so I'm not familiar with a lot of the issues that are involved.
But the HUD program came about in 1990, and it was a provision of the Safe Medical Device Act. Basically, what this program did, is that it provided a means of getting devices on the market for intended populations for rare diseases or conditions.
And as you can see by the definition, the device is intended for us in treatment or diagnosis of a disease or condition affecting fewer than four thousand individuals per year in the United States, which is a much different definition from the orphan drug designation. That definition of rare disease there is that it has to affect fewer than 200,000 U.S. patients. So it's a much smaller population that these devices are involved in.
So basically what happens is these companies come to us and they submit a request, asking that their device, product, be designated as a HUD, and if the HUD status is granted, then, from that point on it's out of our hands. The rest of the process goes back to the folks in the CDRH, which is the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, and they have a program called a humanitarian device exemption, and it's a pathway for these HUDs to take, to bring these products to market, and what this does is it exempts sponsors from effectiveness requirements that are required for other device products, but they must provide certain safety conditions that have to be met.
More information about the HUD designation program can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations, and the device program is in Section 21, Parts 814.102.
Our current director of our program is Timothy Cote. He's been at the helm for about a year and a half. Prior to Dr. Cote's arrival here, our previous director is Dr. Marlene Haffner, who retired about two years ago. But one thing with Dr. Haffner is that she was passionate about the rare disease population out there, and she's been involved with the orphan drug program for in excess of 20 years. So she's been around since almost the beginning of the Orphan Drug Act in 1983.
And she realized the importance of our program, and she decided that this is not just a problem in the United States. Rare disease is a problem that affects patients throughout the world.
So she spent a lot of time on the road drumming up, you know, the promises that our program had to offer, and she spoke to many foreign dignitaries, and through her discussions, it led to similar drug acts in other countries.
And as you can see by this slide here, in Japan, they had a program similar to ours that was initiated in 1993. Five years later, Australia created their orphan drug program, and several years after that, the European Union created their orphan drug program. So our program has led to a huge benefit, not just nationally, but internationally.
As I mentioned before, much of the information I've provided today is found on our Web site. Our Web site is at www.fda.gov/orphan. As I mentioned before, all the figures about the products that we've designated, the number of orphan products approved, that's all found on our Web site. The Requests For Applications, Federal Register notice, that's on our Web site, and many, many more bits of information regarding our program are found there.
That concludes my program. So we have plenty of time for questions.
MS. FURIA: Okay. Thank you, Captain Fritsch. I'm going to start reading some of--